by Annette Petavy
At my latest attempt to organize the odd-balls-and-left-overs part of my stash, I realized that I had quite an impressive collection of orange yarns in different kinds of summer materials, especially for someone who rarely wears orange. That pile of orange skeins tickled my imagination, until I finally realized what they were meant to be – an orange stole, inspired by the Irish crochet technique.
- Yarn from your stash, or odd-balls from the yarn store. This is a stash-busting project, and its size and style will depend on what you have at hand. Color consistency (all oranges, all pinks, all blues, all greens) and seasonal consistency (summer materials for a summer stole, winter materials for a winter stole) are more important than quantities and yarn weights. You will, however, need enough yarn of the same weight to make the base mesh (see below).
- Hooks in various sizes to go with the different yarns
- Tapestry needle(s) to weave in yarn ends
- Sewing thread in matching color and sewing needle to sew motifs to mesh
Dtr: double treble crochet (also called double triple crochet), yo three times, insert hook into next stitch, yo and pull yarn through st (5 loops on hook), [yo and pull yarn through first 2 loops on hook] 4 times.
Dc2tog: yo, insert hook in next st, yo and pull yarn through st (3 loops on hook), yo and pull yarn through first 2 loops on hook, yo, insert hook in next st, yo and pull yarn through st (4 loops on hook), yo and pull yarn through first 2 loops on hook, yo and pull yarn through 3 loops on hook.
This is the foundation of your stole – or scarf, or whatever shape you want to give your project. I aimed for a stole, and got one – a rather short one (about 120 cms / 47 ” in length). If you don’t have a lot of yarn for the mesh, make a square scarf to tie around your neck, or a traditional rectangular scarf.
This is where you need the largest quantity of the same yarn, or yarns of very similar weight. In this example, I used leftovers of a discontinued Phildar yarn, Phil Onde, at 112 m (122 yds) per 50 g (1.75 oz). The ball band indicated a hook size of 3.5 mm (US size E-4), but I used a larger hook, 4 mm (G-6). Had I remembered to weigh the finished mesh before I added the embellishments, I think I would have found that I had used roughly 200 g (7 oz) of yarn.
I started out making a swatch, to calculate how many chains to make for the width of the stole.
Swatch (7 squares wide)
Rows 1-5: Follow instructions for Mesh patt (below).
Multiple of 4 stitches + 1.
Row 1: Ch 1, skip 1 ch, sc in next ch, *ch 6, skip 3 ch, sc in next ch*, repeat from * to * across.
Row 2: Ch 8 (counts as 1 dtr + 3 ch), sc into the first chain arch, *ch 6, sc into next chain arch*, rep from * to * across. When the last sc has been made into the last chain arch, ch 3 and work dtr into the last sc.
Row 3: Ch 1, sc into the dtr, *ch 6, sc into next ch-8 arch*, rep from * to * across, working last sc into the 5th ch of beg ch-8 made in the previous row.
Repeat rows 2 and 3.
This simple mesh is built up with stacked, tilted squares. The chain stitches make a very flexible fabric, so it’s difficult to make precise measurements. I put my swatch flat on the table and tried to smooth it out so it looked ”OK” – not too stretched in any direction. Five squares of the mesh measured about 14 cm (5 ½”). I wanted my stole to be about 50 cm (20”) wide, so I divided 5 (squares) by 14 (5.5), and multiplied by 50 (20), to get approx 18. This meant my stole should be 18 squares wide, so I chained 18 times [4 ch, + 1 ch], to get 73 ch, and then followed the mesh pattern above.
In this very flexible fabric, the least flexible part is the foundation chain. If you start at one end of your stole and work to the other, you will have one end which is very firm (the end where your foundation chain is) and another end which will seem to have a life of its own. This is why I decided to place the foundation chain in the middle of the stole, and to work outwards from it in two directions.
This way of working is also convenient if you don’t have complete skeins of your mesh yarn, and still want a balanced shape. Nothing stops you from working with the yarn from one incomplete skein in one direction from the foundation chain. When you run out of yarn, place a safety pin in the working loop, begin another skein, starting in the unworked side of the foundation chain, and work in the other direction. This makes it very easy to compare the sizes of the two halves of the work.
Once your bottom mesh is finished, the real fun starts!
You can find motifs taken from, or inspired by Irish crochet in pattern books, stitch dictionaries or on the Web. Don’t hesitate to adapt the motifs you find to suit your uses. A simple method of adaptation is to only use some rounds at the center of a motif worked in the round.
Here are a few of the simple motifs I used for my stole:
Ch 6, sl st into 1st ch to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, work 15 sc into ring, sl st in 1st sc.
Round 2: *Ch 3, work dc2tog over next 2 stitches, ch 3, sl st in next sc*, rep from * to * for a total of 5 times, placing last sl st in sl st from previous round.
Ch 7, sl st into 1st ch to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, work 16 sc into ring, sl st into 1st sc.
Round 2: Ch 1, sc into 1st sc, *ch 5, skip 1 sc, sc into next sc*, rep from * to * 6 more times, ch 5, sl st into 1st sc.
Round 3: Sl st into 1st ch-5 arch, ch 1, *sc, 5 hdc, sc* into arch, rep from * to * into each ch-5 arch, sl st into 1st sc. (8 petals are formed).
Round 4: Ch 1, working behind each petal make 1 sc into the 1st sc on round 2, *ch 6, sc into next sc on round 2*, rep from * to * 6 more times, ch 6, sl st into 1st sc.
Round 5: Sl st into 1st ch-6 arch, ch 1, *sc, 6 hdc, sc* into arch, rep from * to * into each ch-6 arch, sl st into 1st sc.
Round 6: Ch 1, working behind each petal make 1 sc into the 1st sc on round 4, *ch 7, sc into next sc on round 4*, rep from * to * 6 more times, ch 7, sl st into 1st sc.
Round 7: Sl st into 1st ch-7 arch, ch 1, *sc, 7 hdc, sc* into arch, rep from * to * into each ch-7 arch, sl st into 1st sc.
Row 1: Skip 2 ch (counts as sc), sc into each of next 14 ch, 3 sc in last chain (the base of the leaf is formed), working back along the other side of the starting chain, sc into each of next 15 ch, turn.
Row 2: Ch 1, skip 1 stitch, sc into each stitch to the center stitch at the base of the leaf, 3 sc into the center stitch, work 1 sc into each stitch until 3 stitches remain, turn.
Rows 3-7: Rep row 2.
Make as many different motifs as you like, varying yarns and adapting the hook size to the yarn used.
Weave in all yarn ends. Block bottom mesh and motifs lightly if you wish.
Spread out the bottom mesh on a table. It is best to do the finishing sitting at a table. With the bottom mesh on your lap, curled up in your comfiest armchair, it is to easy to distort the mesh. This could make your stole pucker and drape strangely when worn.
Lay out the motifs approximately where you want to put them. I concentrated the motifs at the ends of the stole, scattering just a few small flowers on the part to be worn over my back.
Now, with sewing needle and thread, sew each motif to the bottom mesh. You can simply sew only those edges of the motif that ”touch” the chains in the mesh, running your sewing needle through the border of the motif to get from one spot to another. You can also ”follow” the chains in the mesh under the motifs. I used a combination of the two techniques.
Find a nice pin.
Put on a dress.
Pin your stole as desired to your dress.